Old Fashioned 4.21.18
A distinctly American classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned is a standby in any bartenders arsenal.
There seem to be two stories about its origin. The first dates back to around the late 1880s and
James E. Pepper who was a bartender for the still-running Pendennis Club in Louisville,
Kentucky. The story goes that Mr. Pepper brought the recipe to the Waldorf Astoria in New
York City. The second gives us an ancestor, “The Whiskey Cocktail” of the early 1800s. While it
did become ubiquitous it was also generally adjusted six ways to Sunday to the degree that
many wished for a return to “old-fashioned” drinks. Prohibition shunted the Old Fashioned into
the background, and it would come out of the speakeasies and into the Gilded Age. Because
nobody can ever leave a good thing alone, it was again adjusted to the tastes of every
bartender looking to “improve” the thing. Thankfully, a reverence for the original design is
essentially why we have the recipie for the single most popular cocktail in America today.
The drink has gone on to become it’s own category. It is distinguished by its history and the
tradition surrounding it. For example, it is always made in and served in the trademark Old
Fashioned glass. The Mint Julep, an upscale drink that I imagine is consumed only at the
Kentucky Derby racetrack, and the New Orleans born Sazarac have their origins in the story of
the Old Fashioned. What follows is the traditional recipe.
1 sugar cube
Splash of soda or water
1-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 oz Whiskey
Put the sugar, water and bitters in an Old Fashioned glass and muddle it together
Fill glass with ice, and up to 2 ounces of whiskey and stir.
Traditionally, the garnishes for this one can be either an orange slice, a lemon twist, or a cherry,
and it doesn’t really matter what kind. Simple syrup is also an acceptable alternative unless you
or the person you are making it for really prefer it in the traditional manner. (Sorry, but the low
hanging pun “Old Fashioned way” does need to be at least acknowledged.)
Any old whiskey works. In the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin, the Brandy Old Fashioned is a
staple. Generally though, it’s bourbon or rye whiskey. Although, some have even used other
spirits like gin instead, but this is not the standard. ENJOY!!